Former French First Lady Valerie Trierweiler tore into President Francois Hollande, saying the Socialist leader despises the poor and calls them “les sans-dents,” or “the toothless” in private.
In a 320-page tell-all book entitled “Merci Pour Ce Moment” or “Thanks for the Moment” to be released tomorrow, 49-year-old Trierweiler, who was forced to leave the Elysee presidential palace after Hollande’s affair with a French actress, lists what she says are lies told by the president.
“He likes to come across as a man who doesn’t like the rich,” she writes, according to excerpts published today by the daily Le Monde. “In reality, the president doesn’t like the poor. This the man of the Left, calls them in private ‘the toothless,’ very proud of his brand of humor.”
The book’s publication and the private comments it shares come as Hollande is sliding again in opinion polls. His popularity has fallen back below 20 percent, near France’s historical low for a president. With joblessness rising for three straight years and a government mutiny forcing him to reshuffle his cabinet, revelations about his private life are adding to his political troubles.
“With the release of every new poll, I watched him disintegrate,” Trierweiler wrote. “He needs to find someone to blame for the drop. It could never be him, so it had to be others and me.”
With comments that mix the private and the public in what Le Monde said shows that the “office of the president has lost its sacredness,” Trierweiler says Hollande’s behavior has been far from exemplary, something he had promised during his election campaign.
Hollande, who took over as president in 2012 after five years of Nicolas Sarkozy -- whose Ray-Ban glasses, holidays on the yacht of a billionaire friend and marriage to singer and model Carla Bruni while in office provided fodder for the celebrity press -- had promised to keep his private life just that: private.
The president hasn’t made a public comment on the book. His office didn’t immediately respond to a call for a comment on Trierweiler’s claims. The government spokesman Stephane Le Foll shrugged off any potential consequences from the publication.
“In the current environment in France and with the responsibilities we face, we have no time to lose,” he said on the all-news I-tele channel.
Hollande’s affair with 42-year-old actress Julie Gayet was devastating, Trierweiler says in the book.
“We had planned on marrying before Christmas in a very small ceremony in Tulle,” she said. “He took back the proposal a month before. Julie Gayet was already in his life, but I didn’t know about it.”
Trierweiler said he sought to win her back after his infidelity prompted her to overdose on sleeping pills. She talks of the flowers and text messages he sent -- some as recently as in early June -- and the dinner invitations after their breakup.
“He tells me he wants to win me back like I was an election,” she wrote, according to excerpts published today in Paris Match magazine, where she’s a columnist. “Does he believe what he writes? Or am I the latest whim of a man who hates losing?”
On Jan. 25, Hollande officially announced he had split from Trierweiler, after a tabloid reported on his year-long affair with Gayet. Trierweiler moved out of the Elysee presidential palace and returned to public life, engaging in non-profit humanitarian work alongside her role as a journalist.
Celebrity magazine Closer ran a photo spread in its Jan. 10 edition purportedly showing Hollande, 60, as he arrived on a scooter at an apartment around the corner from his office for a liaison with Gayet.
Trierweiler didn’t alert Hollande before the publication of her memoirs, according to Le Parisien newspaper. The release was announced yesterday on Paris Match’s website. She got an advance of about 100,000 euros ($131,000) and the Paris-based publisher Les Arenes printed 200,000 copies, the daily said.
The former first lady lays out in detail how she popped a large dose of sleeping pills on the day she was informed of Hollande’s infidelity. She was devastated as the news became public, she said.
“I want to sleep, I don’t want to go through the hours that’ll follow,” she wrote. She was hospitalized for eight days after the news reports of the affair.
In the book, Trierweiler gives details of the couple’s personal life at the Elysee palace, recounting how Hollande’s rise to power altered their relationship. There was little room for privacy, she says, citing an instance when an adviser walked into their bathroom.
The columnist for Paris Match, who didn’t quit her job during her 20-month reign as first lady, also writes of the early days of her nine-year-long relationship with Hollande.
Hollande started dating her when she was a political journalist and he was still with his former partner Segolene Royal, the mother of his four children and now France’s Energy and Environment Minister.
In 2011, before Hollande became president, news broke of the arrest of former International Monetary Fund’s chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in New York for an alleged attempt to rape a hotel chambermaid, a charge that was later dropped. DSK, as he is known in France, was the leading contender to be the Socialist candidate for the presidency and a rival to Hollande. Trierweiler notes that she woke Hollande up to give him news of DSK’s arrest.
Hollande spared “not a minute to laugh about DSK,” she writes. “Francois was already thinking about his next move.”
For her part, Trierweiler wrote the Gayet affair was very hard on her.
“I am jealous, and I have always been with every man I’ve loved,” she wrote.
She cites U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama and the “dark look” she gave President Barack Obama when he took a “selfie” with the Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service in December 2013.
“I was happy to see I’m not the only one to be jealous,” she wrote.
To contact the reporter on this story: Helene Fouquet in Paris at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alan Crawford at email@example.com Vidya Root, Mark Deen